Is Betteridge's Law of Headlines Garbage?
Wikipedia (the infallible source of all knowledge that is always accurate and just) defines Betteridge's law of headlines in the following way:
Betteridge's law of headlines is an adage that states, "Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no." It is named after Ian Betteridge, a British technology journalist, although the general concept is much older. The observation has also been called "Davis' law" or just the "journalistic principle."
At first glance it doesn't seem possible. It even took me a bit to understand how this could even be possible. After some thought I believe it is possible. It will be a lot clearer if I break it down (which I'll do Barney style if the need arises).
Firstly, I have zero problems with writers or journalists asking questions. It's what they're supposed to do. What I do have a problem with is when they sensationalize or manipulate news to increase page views on a particular article than what is warranted. For instance, if I were to write about brick cell phones, it makes no sense for me to write a headline like this: Will Resurgence of Brick Cell Phones Destroy iPhone Market Among Hipsters? That headline may increase page views, but it's an idiotic question, and the answer is clearly "no".
You may notice you almost never see a headline with a question if an article actually contains information that will actually rock people's worlds. For instance, If Android ended up destroying the iPhone, you wouldn't ever see a headline such as Can Android Sink the iPhone? because the answer must always be no. If the answer was ever yes, their headline would get far more page views if it read Android Sinks the iPhone.
Betteridge's law is garbage. Stop being sheep by citing it. Joshua Topolsky (@joshuatopolsky) July 16, 2013
Turns out he had a conversation with Betteridge on Twitter about this very topic. Topolsky mostly just made personal attacks, and asserted the law is false without backing that up with facts. He decided a better approach would be to call people "sheep".
Regardless of whether Betteridge's law "exists" or not, I still think less headlines should contain stupid questions. They're like lazy plot devices in movies. If you took the time to think about it, they could have added to the story. Instead, they make the end product worse.